Ancient Odeons and Bouleuterions in Turkey






Patara was the capital of the Lycian League during the Roman Empire. The Lycian League was an ancient union of the cities of Lycia. The building, which was restored in 2010 and 2011 with enormous financial expenditure, served the Lycian League as an assembly building.
Buried under sand for centuries, the Bouleuterion (at that time only suspected) was excavated between 1997 and 2007 under the direction of the Archaeological Institute of the Akdeniz University of Antalya and with the collaboration of the Department of Civil Engineering of the Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences. During these excavations it was discovered that the original Late Hellenistic building had undergone a total of 4 construction phases.

The building was reconstructed and rebuilt using restored original stones. Several surviving inscription blocks are now placed on the front of the Bouleuterion. From their existence and their place of discovery, the purpose of the building as a meeting place of the Lykischer Bund could be proven almost beyond doubt. The very location of the building, at a centre of social life, shows the high significance of the building.
For a building several thousand years old, its condition before restoration was surprisingly good. This is not least due to the conservation of the sand that covered it over several centuries.

In the Justinian period, in the fourth construction phase, the building, which had probably been partially destroyed by earthquakes, was used to fortify the corner of the city wall. This made it necessary to reinforce the interior. All openings and entrances were bricked up and the interior partially filled with earth. Access to the building was probably via the ramparts of the city wall. At that time, a very common use of existing buildings (remnants).

If one enters the reconstructed Bouleuterion through one of the doors at the front, a short staircase leads directly into the scene, here the area behind the pulpitum, the actual stage, or the speaker's platform. The visitors who entered the building through the paradoi (side entrances) on the north and south sides were led to the orchestra (semicircular level directly in front of the stage) and to the lower part of the cavea (spectator seats). The stairs served as entrances to the upper rows of seats. Large parts of the orchestra's flooring have been preserved. They probably date from the first, original construction phase and, after restoration, were fitted with walk-in glass panels to protect them.

One of the original windows was preserved on the north wall. This indicates that the Bouleuterion was already covered during the first construction phase. On the south side several stones were found for the window soffit with identical dimensions as those on the north side. In theoretical calculations it could be proven that a column-free roof construction was possible, taking ancient techniques into account.
The lateral stairs serve as entrances to the upper part of the seats. It is assumed that these were created during the extension of the cavea in the second construction phase. Unfortunately the stones of the scaenae frons, (stage back wall) were lost except for the 4 stumps and the lateral door openings. The cavea offered space for 1450 delegates from up to 36 cities of the Lycian League.
A special feature of the Bouleuterion of Patara is the honorary seat in the form of an exedra in the middle of the cavea. With a little imagination you can imagine the chairman of the meeting in his flowing robes on this square, just as we know it from historical films. The portico that once existed in front of the Bouleuterion (a portico with a closed rear wall in front of a building) could not be reconstructed, as the columns were probably used for other purposes in the fourth construction phase during the fortification work and used elsewhere.

Photos: @chim    
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Source: multiple